Courage has many aspects, not just bravery in acute situations such as warfare or protecting others (or yourself) from harms way. Courage includes the ability to speak up and act in a way that honors your values and self-respect, even when you are afraid to do so. Courage often involves asking yourself to do something that is uncomfortable.
One aspect of courage is doing or saying what your inner compass asks you to do, and then not just ignoring your fears, but bringing them along with you. This is one of the secrets of finding your voice: not waiting until you don’t feel the fear or anxiety, but simply inviting it along with you as you speak. The good news here is the more you practice speaking up with your fears in tow, the easier it becomes to do so, over time. The trick is practice, practice, practice.
The question of course becomes: why is it that so many of us can’t find our voice?
What is the mystery behind this, and why can some people can find it, and others can’t?
I believe that, like so many things in life, finding your voice/courage is multi-determined by the many factors that make up our unique being. Certainly what you learned at home growing up makes a huge impact on your ability to speak up as an adult. Did your parents condition you not to question authority or keep your mouth shut and head down? Did your own particular culture frown on or encourage speaking up? Did you see the people who spoke up doing it poorly or tactlessly, which embedded an undesirable connection in your mind between speaking up and offending others?
In addition to our nurture, some of us by nature seem to be gutsier. You can sometimes see this in siblings, where one speaks up and the other does not. This appears to be something providential, and just is. It does not mean however that you can’t learn to find your voice more often.
One way to find your voice is to build your confidence. I don’t say this lightly; it can takes years. The point here is to put your focus on it, and learn how to do it step by step. For example, if your fear is you will blurt something you’ll later regret, your work is to practice speaking up in non-threatening situations, and measure your words, think empathically about the other, but still make your point.
Think of finding your voice as speaking your truth. It does not have to be done accusatorily, blamefully or angrily. This is where the true work begins — taking the blame out and expressing your personal truth.
How do you find your voice?
Pamela Tudor is President of Tudor Consulting LLC, a leadership training and executive coaching firm that provides clients with practical tools and helpful thinking they can use in their careers and personal lives. She teaches Emotional Intelligence and Leading Inspired Change to global leaders, and coaches individuals and teams to achieve the results they desire and the inner wisdom they need. Her simple guide to Inner Fitness™ helps individuals to reduce reactions to stress, cultivate joy and maintain balance in their lives.
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